Closed captioning, Wi-Fi on tap for FCC meeting

The Federal Communications Commission will tackle school Wi-Fi, rural broadband Internet and closed captioning on online video clips when it meets next month.

At the top of the commission’s agenda, announced on Friday, is a plan to close the “Wi-Fi gap” between schools and libraries that have wireless access to the Internet and those that don’t.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler unveiled the plan on Friday as part of the commission’s E-Rate program. Under Wheeler’s proposal, the FCC will spend $2 billion over the next two years to put Wi-Fi in more schools and libraries.

“The new plan will make E-Rate dollars go farther by creating processes to drive down prices and increase transparency on how program dollars are spent,” he wrote in a blog post. “And it will simplify the application process for schools and libraries, making the program more efficient while reducing the potential for fraud and abuse.” 

In addition to that plan, the commission will also take a look at a proposed way to fund some experiments to bring high-speed broadband Internet to rural parts of the country.

“The Order would establish a budget for the rural broadband experiments and an objective, clear-cut methodology for selecting winning applications to be in high-cost areas served by price cap carriers,” Wheeler wrote.

Last but not least, the commission next month will revisit a plan to require closed captioning on online video clips in addition to full-length videos. The measure would ensure that people who are deaf and have hearing disabilities can enjoy the latest clips on YouTube and Hulu, Wheeler said.

“Those who hear with their eyes should not be disadvantaged in their ability to access video information on the Internet,” he wrote in his post.

The commission’s monthly open meeting is scheduled for July 11.